Last Spring my sister and I were outside enjoying the sunny weather and slathering on the SPF when we started to compare the hyperpigmentation that was cropping up on our faces. We both had a similar concern—the area above our lips appeared darker than the rest of our faces, leaving us with a complexion that was looking more like our father than our mother. This is when the term “Melasma Mustache” made its way into my vocabulary.
I learned quickly that while the sun and heat could lead to a flare up and darkening of my upper lip, the best offense was a good defense, and my SPF application became vigilant. And while sun exposure is one part of the melasma puzzle, hormone shifts, and genetics are also major contributors to skin-tone changes. This explains why my sister and I, both in our 40s, were experiencing the same problem around the same time.
As we both adjusted our skin-care routines, I learned that in-office chemical peels could also help resurface skin to help lighten the problematic area. The chemical solution causes the top layer of skin to shed, removing with it the unwanted melanin causing the dark patches. So, my older sister Lydia and I set out on a plan to put down the concealer. Here, two sisters try two different chemical peels to see if we can get rid of our matching Melasma stashes.
Sister #1: 47-years-old
Concerns: Dark spots, fine lines and aging skin
Peel: Surplexion Complexion Code Mask Depigmentation Peel
Treatment Time: 30 minutes in-office and two weeks of at-home care
Ingredients: Salicylic Acid, Azelaic acid, Resorcinol, Malic Acid, Retinol Propionate, Hyaluronic Acid and Phytic Acid
Process: Me2Beauty aesthetician Ileana Moreno chose this peel for Lydia because her melasma was light and the downtime was short. “This is a great peel for those who don’t want to go through the 10–12-hour processing time as well as the post downtime with peeling. With Surplexion, processing is 20 minutes plus an additional 20 for another layer over chronic areas. There is also less peeling and irritation.” Because the peel is gentler, follow-up care included an at-home lightening treatment plan to continue to improve results gently over time.
Results: “My skin never peeled off like in a traditional peel, but I loved that I could still get results without publicly shedding my skin. I kept up my treatment at home with a few steps in the morning and night for about two weeks after. I could see my results continue to develop over time and my skin became brighter and my dark spots started to fade. The area above my lip that usually gets the darkest lightened up significantly, which was the goal. But the overall glow I got was a bonus. My skin really needed it.” —Lydia Jimenez
Sister #2: 43-years-old
Concerns: Dark patches above the upper lip
Peel: VI Peel Advanced
Treatment Time: 30 minutes in-office and 7 days of at-home care
Ingredients: Trichloroacetic Acid, Phenol, Salicylic Acid, Vitamin C and Tretinoin
Process: This medical-strength peel was applied to the skin to help improve uneven skin tone, hyperpigmentation, texture, acne and fine lines. Numbing cream was used before the solution was applied in two layers, but the peel was then washed off before bedtime. All of the post-peel essentials and instructions for the next week came together in a handy take-home kit and an smartphone app helped ensure all of the steps were done at the right time. On days 2-5 there was a heavy amount of peeling and on the final two days brighter, fresher skin was revealed.
Results: “Undergoing the peel was super comfortable and easy. The application was simple, the instructions were clear, and the VI Derm Beauty take-home products like the post-peel cleanser and SPF made it easy to take care of my skin the following week. The smartphone app gave me daily reminders of what to do next and the fact that my skin was actually peeling off was also a helpful hint to be super cautious with my next steps. This peel really didn’t come with any downtime except that I had to be mindful of limiting my face-to-face time with others because I was actively peeling, but I felt no discomfort at all. The effort I put in to taking care of my results the week after was truly worth it as my skin was left smoother, brighter, and more importantly the dark patches above my lips that were making me self-conscious were almost undetectable.” —Tatiana Bido